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Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), El 2 de mayo de 1808 en Madrid (1814)
Madrid, Prado Museum

Musica ex lingua

For Choir and chamber/symphony Orchestra

Texts and recordings
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Musica ex Lingua was commissioned by the Department of Culture of the Community of Madrid, destined to be premiered by its Chamber Orchestra and Choir on the occasion of the celebration of May 2, the day of said Community, in 1990. Its title does not intend anything other than to place on the same plane, from the very beginning, the two main elements of the work: music and language, or, better said, language and music, since the Latin expression itself subordinates the latter to the former, by creating an antecedent/consequent relationship between the two. And it was my purpose, from the beginning of the composition, to write a work in which music and language, in the form of texts or poems, interlock with each other in such a way that, upon hearing, one would not be damaged or, simply, nullified or overshadowed by the other.
For some years now I have been very interested in a series of questions related to language, of which all those aspects of speech that can be measured and analyzed from a musical point of view strongly attract my attention. And during the past year I had the immense fortune that a couple of books by Agustín García Calvo fell into my hands (specifically, On Language and Talking about what talks), which I read -devoured-, not with interest, but with authentic emotion.

Then I learned about García Calvo's project regarding the creation of a future School of Language Arts -which the Community of Madrid, precisely, is supporting, and to which I wish the best future-, in which disciplines such as Linguistics, Logic, Mathematics… and Music. The "Preface" of Musica ex Lingua does not want to be anything other than a modest contribution to all of this, as well as my tribute of admiration to Professor García Calvo. It is an unconventional beginning, in which each of the members of the choir recites a series of paragraphs from Talking about what talks, selected for the high musical content they contain. Its use here is more symbolic than practical, since the result of superimposing thirty-two simultaneous readings of different texts cannot produce anything other than "chaos", from which the "order" that will prevail in the rest of the work will emerge.
"Recitative I" has as a literary basis some "ovillejos" by Lope de Vega, whose character is accentuated by the use of obstinate rhythmic formulas, and which serve as support for a treatment of the voice in which various nuances alternate, ranging from recited to the singing, going through intermediate stages. It is followed by "Aria I", on four fragments of the Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea, by Luis de Góngora, in which constant twists of language are produced, which musically have been reflected in the following way: a) I restructured Góngora's text, undoing the hyperbats and giving it the natural order of Castilian; b) I assigned each string of the choir one of the four selected real octaves; c) I set the four superimposed texts to music, and then deleted them, assigning the resulting pure music to the strings, becoming the instrumental sections that separate each intervention of the choir; and d) I reordered the resulting choral music, according to Góngora's original structure. The end result is, as can be seen, purely fortuitous, sometimes producing frankly "shocking" sound overlays.
An "Alleluia" serves as an "Interlude". It is a re-instrumentation of one of the movements of my work Exequias, from 1985, which was nothing more than a "requiem" dedicated to the memory of the painter Fernando Zóbel, who honored me with his friendship during the years I spent in Cuenca , where he lived long periods, Next, "Recitative II" immerses us in a world in which "speech" predominates over "singing". The texts are all allusive to death, which is an authentic "leitmotiv" in the poetry of José Bergamín. It is followed by "Aria II", as a "villancico", on a poem in Galician by Ramón del Valle-Inclán. Finally, the "Final" is based on two sonnets by Francisco de Quevedo, which belong to the set of satirical poems that the author dedicated to Luis de Góngora.
As for the music, I refer to his audition, as it is customary in these cases. The listener should not be surprised if he suddenly finds himself facing music belonging to very different aesthetic presuppositions, with sometimes abrupt jumps between one and the other. They are, quite simply, things that could happen at the end of the 20th century, a product of coexistence and accumulation (John cage dixit) typical of our time, as well as of the various current artistic endeavors, and for which -among others- I believe that music is worth writing these days.

Musica ex Lingua was premiered on May 2, 1990 in the Symphony Hall of the National Music Auditorium in Madrid, performed by the Madrid Community Choir and Chamber Orchestra conducted by Miguel Groba. In 2013 it was re-instrumented for symphony orchestra.
The score is dedicated to my parents, who taught me to speak.

The Chamber Orchestra and Choir of Madrid Community conducted by Miguel Groba,
in a photo taken in 1990

Miguel Groba (1935)

Cover of the CD Madrid en el Tiempo (vol. II)
including the recording of Musica ex Lingua (1992)

Texts and recordings

I. Prefacio

The texts -too long to be reproduced here- correspond to a series of paragraphs on the relationship between music and language, from the book Talking about what talks, by Agustín García Calvo (Ed. Lucina, Madrid, 1989), a work to which I send to the listener, strongly recommending its reading.

Agustín García Calvo (1926-2012)

Recording: Chamber Orchestra and Choir of Madrid Community (Cond.: Miguel Groba)

I. Prefacio

First page of the 1st movement of Musica ex lingua

II. Recitativo I (Lope de Vega)

¿Quién mata con más rigor?
¿Quién causa tantos desvelos?
¿Quién es el mal de mi bien?
¿Qué más que todos también
una esperanza perdida,
pues que me quitan la vida
amor, celos y desdén?

¿Qué fin tendrá mi osadía?
¿Y qué remedio mi daño?
¿Quién es contrario a mi amor?
Luego es forzoso el rigor
y locura el porfiar,
pues mal se pueden juntar
porfía, engaño y temor.

¿Qué es lo que el amor me ha dado?
¿Y qué es lo que yo le pido?
¿Qué tengo del bien que veo?
Si en tal locura me empleo
que soy mi propio enemigo,
presto acabarán conmigo
cuidado, olvido y deseo.
Who kills more rigorously?
Who causes so many troubles?
Who is the evil of my good?
What more than all too
a lost hope,
so they take my life
love, jealousy and disdain?

What end will my daring have?
And what remedy my damage?
Who is contrary to my love?
Then rigor is forced
and madness the stubbornness,
since they can't be put together
obstinacy, deceit and fear.

What is it that love has given me?
And what do I ask of it?
What do I have of the good that I see?
If in such madness I use myself
that I am my own enemy,
soon they will finish me
care, forgetfulness and desire.

Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635)
Portrait attributed to Eugenio Cajés (c. 1627)
Madrid, Lázaro Galdiano Museum

II. Recitativo I

First page of the 2nd movement of Musica ex lingua

III. Aria I (from the Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea, by Luis de Góngora). (Untranslatable)

No a las palomas concedió Cupido
juntar de sus dos picos los rubíes,
cuando al clave el joven atrevido
las dos hojas le chupa carmesíes.
Cuantas produce Pafo, engendra Gnido,
negras violas, blancos alhelíes,
llueven sobre el que Amor quiere que sea
tálamo de Acis y de Galatea.

Más agradable y menos zahareña,
al mancebo levanta venturoso,
dulce ya concediéndole, y risueña,
paces no al sueño, treguas sí al reposo.
Lo cóncavo hacía de una peña
a un fresco sitïal dosel umbroso,
y verdes celosías unas yedras,
trepando troncos y abrazando piedras.

El sueño de sus miembros sacudido,
gallardo el joven la persona ostenta,
y al marfil luego de sus pies rendido,
el coturno besar dorado intenta.
Menos ofende el rayo prevenido
al marinero, menos la tormenta
prevista le turbó, o prognosticada:
Galatea lo diga salteada.

El ronco arrullo al joven solicita;
mas, con desvíos Galatea süaves,
a su audacia los términos limita,
y el aplauso al concento de las aves.
Entre las ondas y la fruta, imita
Acis al siempre ayuno en penas graves:
que, en tanta gloria, infierno son no breve
fugitivo cristal, pomos de nieve.

Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627)
Portrait painted by Diego de Silva Velázquez (1622)
Boston (Massachussets), Fine Arts Museum

III. Aria I

First page of the 3rd movement of Musica ex lingua

IV. Interlude: Alleluia

Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi:
In domus Domini ibimus.
I was glad when they told me:
We will go to the house of the Lord.)

Gregorian Alleluia Gregorian Alleluia on which
the 4th movement of Musica ex lingua is based

IV. Interlude: Alleluia

First page of the 4th movement of Musica ex lingua

V. Recitativo II (from La claridad desierta, by José Bergamín)

Todo está muerto en mí, muerto al sentido,
muerto al deseo, muerto a la esperanza.
No me queda de mí más que esa muerte
tan perezosa y larga.

Sé que al abrir los ojos en la muerte
mis ojos no verán, estarán ciegos.
Abiertos, muy abiertos, será inútil
querer cerrarlos para volver al sueño.

Devorará la tierra con mi sangre
la última luz que palpitaba en ellos.
Sus órbitas vacías para siempre
abrirán a la nada su hondo hueco.

Una sombra en la sombra, una cadencia,
que en el aire dilata
el eco de mi voz, y va apagándose,
poco a poco, en palabras.
Everything is dead in me, dead to meaning,
dead to desire, dead to hope.
I have nothing left of me but that death
so lazy and long.

I know that when I open my eyes in death
my eyes will not see, they will be blind.
Open, wide open, it will be useless
want to close them to return to sleep.

The last light that throbbed in them
will devour the earth with my blood.
Their orbits empty forever
will open their deep hole to nothingness.

A shadow in the shadow, a cadence,
that expands in the air
the echo of my voice, and it fades away,
little by little, in words.

José Bergamín (1895-1983)

V. Recitativo I

First page of the 5th movement of Musica ex lingua

VI. Aria II (from Aromas de leyendas, by Ramón Mª del Valle-Inclán)

Sobre o sol e a lúa
voa un paxariño
que leva unha rosa
pra Xesús meniño.
Paxariño louro,
gaiteiriño lindo,
cántame no peito
que o tengo ferido.
Cántame no peito,
gaiteiriño lindo,
que con Xesús falas
no teu asobío.
Pola mañán cedo,
lindo ruiseñol,
hai na tua cantiga
orballo de frol.
Orballiño fresco
nas pallas do día,
orballiño, gracia
da Virxe María.
Over the sun and the moon
a little bird flies
who wears a rose
for little Jesus.
Blond bird,
cute bagpiper,
sing to my chest
that I have him hurt.
Sing to my chest
cute bagpiper,
that with Jesus you speak
in your peep-peep.
Early in the morning,
cute nightingale,
there is in your song
flower dew.
Fresh dew
in the herbs of the day,
dew, it's grace
of the Virgin Mary.

Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936)

VI. Aria II

First page of the 6th movement of Musica ex lingua

VII. Final (Francisco de Quevedo)

a) Receta para hacer soledades en un día

Quien quisiera ser culto en sólo un día,
la jeri(aprenderá)gonza siguiente:
fulgores, arrogar, joven, presiente,
candor, construye, métrica armonía;
poco mucho, si no, purpuracía,
neutralidad, conculca, erige, mente,
pulsa, ostenta, librar, adolescente,
señas traslada, pira, frustra, arpía;
cede, impide, cisuras, petulante,
palestra, liba, meta, argento, alterna,
si bien disuelve émulo canoro.

Use mucho de líquido y de errante,
su poco de nocturno y de caverna,
anden listos livor, adunco y poro.
Que ya toda Castilla,
con sola esta cartilla,
se abrasa de poetas babilones,
escribiendo sonetos confusiones;
y en la Mancha, pastores y gañanes,
atestadas de ajos las barrigas,
hacen ya cultedades como migas.

a) Recipe to make "soledades" in one day

Who would like to be cultured in just one day,
the next jar(will learn)gon:
fulgores, arrogar, joven, presiente,
candor, construye, métrica armonía;
poco mucho, si no, purpuracía,
neutralidad, conculca, erige, mente,
pulsa, ostenta, librar, adolescente,
señas traslada, pira, frustra, arpía;
cede, impide, cisuras, petulante,
palestra, liba, meta, argento, alterna,
si bien disuelve émulo canoro.

Use a lot of líquido y de errante,
a bit of nocturno y de caverna,
be ready livor, adunco y poro.
That all Castile,
with just this card,
burns with Babylonian poets,
writing sonnets confusions;
and in La Mancha, shepherds and ranchers,
bellies crammed with garlic,
they already make cultities like fried breadcrumbs.

b) Soneto "al mesmo D. Luis". (Untranslatable)

¿Socio otra vez? ¡Oh, tú, que desbudelas
del toraz vaternoso inanidades,
y en parangón de tus sideridades,
equilibras tus pullas paralelas!
Por Artropos te abjuro que te duelas
de tus vertiginosas navidades,
que se gratulan neotericidades
(y) craticulan santas bisabuelas.
Merlincocaizando nos fatiscas
vorágines, triclinios, promptuarios,
trámites, vacilantes icareas.
De lo ambágico y póntico troquiscas
fuliginosos vórtices y varios,
y, atento a que unificas, labrusqueas.

Francisco de Quevedo Villegas (1580-1645)
Portrait attributed to Juan van der Hamen (1596-1631)
Madrid, Valencia de Don Juan Institute

VII. Final

First page of the 7th movement of Musica ex lingua

Related text

Ríos Fresno, Rebeca
De "Métrica armonía"
Article on Musica ex lingua (Valladolid, 2009)


Music and word
By Carlos Gómez Amat
(Review published in the newspaper El Mundo. Madrid, May 4, 1990)

The great success of the evening came later, with the new work by José Luis Turina, commissioned by the Community, which was premiered on this occasion, with auditions in San Martín de la Vega, Majadahonda and in the capital.
The composer, who has moved to the front row on his own merit, without needing to use his elbows, has done a beautiful job. He knew who he was writing for, and he has perfectly calculated the possibilities.
José Luis is not an artist with artificial overtones of intellectuality, but a deep and rigorous creative intellectual. His concerns always go beyond what could be everyday or domestic. Now, he has raised a captivating exercise in the eternal problem of the relationship between music and word.
He plays with sound and text, with what is spoken and sung, with premeditated confusion and clarity, with tonal and atonal, with the balance between voices and instruments.
All this is interesting in theory and in practice, but above what could be speculations or solutions to problems, there is beauty, pure and direct beauty. The science of García Calvo, the grace of Lope, the beauty of Góngora, the emotion of the Hallelujah, the desolation of Bergamín, the popularism of Valle-Inclán and the satire of Quevedo, come together in a succession of contrasts, with original and sometimes surprising procedures.
The version was good, the author was applauded with the performers and one of the numbers was repeated.

Musica ex lingua
By Tomás Marco
(Review publish in the newspaper Diario 16. Madrid, May 5, 1990)

José Luis Turina will hang his whole life with the dead weight of being the grandson of Joaquín Turina. But these family repetitions are resolved over time. I am very clear, and I have said and written it long ago, that José Luis Turina will not only be much bigger than his grandfather, but, for me, he already is, although few know it yet. Born in 1952, he is one of those natural musical talents that comes one in every generation. Talent and wisdom that have already led him to several top works. So is this Musica ex lingua. Seven fragments with texts by García Calvo, Góngora, Bergamín, Valle-Inclán and Quevedo, in which music and words and the languages of music are related and investigated. Very beautiful work that, like others in which the author uses the word -Ocnos, Exequias in memory of F. Zóbel- uses a sequential form that could well make the leap towards a great formal, unitary effort, as occurs in some of his important instrumental works. But we must not talk about the work that will be, but about what it is, a magnificent work that puts him on the verge of converting his exercises with language into an authentic metalanguage. In addition, communicative and even moving, as demonstrated by the great reception of the public after the good version provided by the Chamber Orchestra and Choir of the Community of Madrid, conducted by Miguel Groba.

The mastery of young Turina
By Enrique Franco
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, november 16, 1991)

The Orchestra and Choir of the Community of Madrid, conducted by Miguel Groba, returned to the National Auditorium to offer, together with the Arias and dances by Respighi and the Concerto in D by Stravinsky -played with cleanliness and good style-, Music ex lingua, by José Luis Turina (Madrid, 1952), written and premiered last year under commission of the Community.
It is a cantata in seven parts driven, in different ways, by the author's interest in language and its relationship with music, with texts by García Calvo, Lope de Vega, Góngora, Bergamín, Valle-Inclán and Quevedo.
Musica ex lingua's approach could suggest complex solutions, but Turina's performance responds to masterful simplicity, both when he speaks for himself and when he fantasizes about past styles. With the musicalization of the text, our attention is drawn to the instrumental treatment imposed on the meaning and prosody of the choir. And it is that Turina, from the beginning of his career, behaves like a complete and true teacher. Great success with an encore included.

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(Scores and parts without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )

General score of the original version for chamber orchestra of Musica ex Lingua

General score of the version for symphony orchestra of Musica ex Lingua

Score of Choir and Piano reduction of Musica ex Lingua